What Is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is one of the most common neurodegenerative conditions. It is a movement disorder that directly affects the nervous system. It progresses very slowly and remains undetectable in the early stages.
How Many People Have Parkinson’s Disease in Canada?
1 in 500 Canadians is affected by Parkinson’s disease. According to the UCB, 100,000 Canadians suffer from Parkinson’s with approximately 6,600 new cases being diagnosed each year. In Canada, the majority of individuals who get a Parkinson’s diagnosis are over the age of 60, with only 10 percent of people developing symptoms before the age of 50.
Diagnosing Parkinson’s Disease
If the primary doctor suspects Parkinson’s disease, they will refer the patient to a neurologist, specializing in movement disorders. Below are some early signs of Parkinson’s.
Early Signs of Parkinson's Disease
In the early stages, it can be hard to tell if your loved one has Parkinson’s. They might exhibit a symptom or two every once in a while, but other than that, the condition remains dormant.
Here is a list of the top 10 most common symptoms that could be early signs of Parkinson’s Disease:
Parkinson’s affects the brain and causes changes in our behaviors and leads to abnormal signs. One such sign is smaller handwriting. You might notice that your way of writing words has changed and words are crowded together in such a way that the reader will have difficulty reading them. A change in handwriting may be a sign of Parkinson's disease called micrographia.
Another sign of PD is slight shaking or tremor in your finger, thumb, hand, or chin. Any uncontrollable movements while at rest could be an early sign of Parkinson’s.
Among the non-motor symptoms of PD, trouble sleeping is the most common one. It is common for Parkinson's patients to move around in bed and have sudden movements.
However, before coming to a conclusion, you should consult a doctor and find out whether your sleep issues are caused by PD or due to other reasons (such as sleeping disorders).
Loss of Smell
If you experience loss of smell or you can no longer smell certain foods you should ask your doctor about Parkinson’s. PD can cause our brain cells to behave abnormally and might lead to loss of smell.
Trouble Moving or Walking
If you feel stiffness in your body or your posture has started to change then it might be a sign of PD.
Stiffness in muscles can be an early sign of Parkinson's. You might feel pain in your shoulder or hips due to it.
Having constipation or straining in your bowel can be an early sign of Parkinson’s disease. To ease constipation, eating a diet with enough fiber and plenty of water is recommended. A Soft or Low Voice
Parkinson’s disease can affect a person in many ways. It can even change the voice of your loved one. You might notice that their voice has become softer and lower than usual.
It might go unnoticed at the start but over time people can have difficulty listening to the affected individual.
Parkinson’s can also lead to stiffer and more serious facial expressions. This can be caused by changes in the brain such as lack of dopamine or damage to nerve endings that control facial muscles. This is called facial masking and you should consult a doctor for a proper check-up.
Stooping or Hunching Over
If your loved one has suddenly started to hunch over or they seem to be stooping, leaning, or slouching when they stand, it can be a sign of Parkinson’s disease.
Dizziness or Fainting
It is common for early-onset Parkinson’s patients to experience slowness of movement and dizziness. Feeling drained or fainting can be a sign of low blood pressure and can be linked to Parkinson's disease. Lower levels of dopamine in PD patients can also lead to dizziness and fainting. This can increase the risk of falls and accidents.
Automatic Fall Detection Systems
To help safeguard against unforeseen accidents and falls it is highly recommended that individuals with Parkinson's use an Automatic Fall Detection system. This is one of the many safety devices offered by Northwood Intouch.
An automatic fall detection device comes with a help button that can be pressed in case of any emergency.
These devices also offer an added layer of protection by automatically detecting falls. Even if the person is unable to press the help button or is unconscious in the event of a fall, a call is automatically placed to the response centre.
This device can be a life-saver for those with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease and is considered a must-have for senior Canadians who live home alone.